Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Fort William Ski Club Early Years - thanks to Sally Smaha...

HR&J received this nice email from Sally back in June of 2012 and of course accepted her photos with great pleasure and thanks.  The three photos she sent are dated into the early 1940's at the Fort William Ski Club, later known to be the Mount McKay Ski Area.
I felt it would be a good time to do a post using her photos since the weather here has been in the -20's F. for the past few days and reminded me of the 1950's where I spent most of my winter weekends skiing in the brutal cold weather....but never noticed how cold is was because we were enjoying our skiing so much.

June 2012
"Hello.   My step father used to talk about skiing and ski jumping back in Fort William. This probably was in the early 1940’s. His Name was Ev Clift and he passed away in 2002. Last year my Mom passed away and now I've been looking through pictures. I have one of the ski hill way back in the days Ev was there. I don't want to throw it away so was wondering if you would like it. If you would please send me your mailing address and I will send it to you.    Sally Smaha"

This article was written just a couple of years before the pictures below existed.  Click on all the pictures once or twice to enlarge them to full screen.
Here are the skiers lined up to be pulled up to the top by the rope tow.  You would let go of the rope at the top of the hill that you see and glide a few feet and grab another rope tow to take you all the way to the very top.  The famous Fort William Ski Club jump is shown on the left top of the picture and the hill that you see just to the left of the rope tow was known later to be the "B" Slalom, later to be full of moguls.  Oh yes, and no T-bar's or Chair Lifts as yet.
Early local ski jumpers and downhill skiers Erling and Knut Hansen were well known in the late 1930's and early 1940's having numerous wins and close finishes in meets around the area helping to promote the local ski clubs of the day.

This is a little wider angle showing a little more of the runs to the right of the rope tow and a long rack to place your skis when you went inside the club house to warm up.  I remember huge wood stoves that made the clubhouse very warm and toasty, as well as a special waxing room to wax your skis or have a professional do it.

This photo is again further right than the last two.  Note the service men standing by the pole to pretty much date these photos as taken during the early years of WWII.  Later in the 1950's we would jump over the "big rock" that you see on the left of the photo.  Just out of the picture to the right would be the clubhouse.  The service men would probably just come to watch and check out the attractive ladies who were skiing there that day.

This is what the equipment would have looked like back in the 1940's and into the 1950's.  The skis were wood with no steel edges and the poles were bamboo.  The square toe boots on the right were very common and a style that lasted well into the 1950's.  The picture of the couple here shows some of the ski apparel that was worn then.....wow how things change over time.

 This is a brochure that was in my mothers photo album and would have been used to show potential skiers that Fort William and Port Arthur Ontario had great skiing and was only a stones throw from the upper mid-west in the United States.
 Here is the back side of the brochure showing how the hill had grown since the 1930's and well into the 1960's.
Here are four of my own White Falcon Ski School badges.  Throughout the 1950's, this was a way for an average family to afford to send their kids skiing, as some had considered it only a rich man's sport.  You could purchase slightly used equipment and the City of Fort William would pick up your skis on a truck and young skiers on city buses and bring them to Mount McKay Ski Area to learn how to ski for a mere 25 cents a week.  There were pick-up spots around the city and you could stay all day after your lesson and practice with no extra charge for the rope tow.
Well known names such as Wally McDougal and Andrew Coffee were founding fathers of the White Falcon Ski School.

This is how progressive the Mount McKay Ski Area looked just before it finally was closed.

Click on all photos for enlargements.

The Dominion Ski Championships were held on February 19th and 20th here at the Fort William Ski Club back in 1949.  Many skiers from the Nordic, Downhill and Jumping divisions here in Fort William went on to Olympic Status putting Fort William and Port Arthur on the map.

Click on this link for more on the Mount McKay Ski Area on this blog, then return http://hotrodsandjalopies.blogspot.ca/2010/01/need-for-speed-in-winter-in-fort.html
Many thanks again to Sally for the great photos.
The Port Arthur Ski Club later to become the Mount Baldy Ski Area, just east of Port Arthur Ontario is the oldest club that still exists here in the Thunder Bay Area.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lyn McIntosh - #62 "The Amco Special" Printed Story by DENNIS WINKO....

This past November my good friend Dennis Winko wrote an excellent article about an incredible man - a legend in his own time, Lyn McIntosh.
His article was reported in a Southern Ontario newspaper format bi-weekly publication for the auto enthusiast called "Old Autos" on November 19, 2012.
With Dennis' permission we have published his article in its entirety for all to see, including a few extra photos below. Please click on all parts of the article and all the photos to enlarge them!

Lyn's Autograph on this one!
In the bush!

Love the quick change diff.

On the dirt...very cool car...
Lyn's racing suite from his TB Invader days.

Lyn and his wife Lenore taken in 2010 in his new hot rod painted like the Thunder Bay Invader!

Through one's life you get to meet some incredible people, and Lyn was no exception.  My small connection with Lyn is that Lyn's brother Dwight and I were very best friends during the 1950's and 1960's.  I spent many days at the McIntosh household and luckily had the chance to see the #62 car being built, to see it's engine in a crate in McIntosh's garage and to actually have driven Lyn's '32 Chevy Hot Rod when I was a mere 16 years.
Dwight and I also skied together with the likes of John Ritchie and some of the Irwins at Loch Lomond Ski Club.  All our waking days back then and after school were devoted to skiing and trying hard to be gear heads like Dwight's brother Lyn.  I even had the privilege to have done the lettering on one of the #62 cars when I was about 17.  I had always followed Lyn's career and thought what an incredible way to live a life.....skiing and coaching all winter and racing cars all summer....what more could a guy ask for!!
A special thanks to Dennis Winko for the great article and to the photographers for the wonderful pictures shown above.....Dave Cano

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Very Lucky Young Man in the 1950's.....

This lucky young fellow had his picture taken with the fast and famous of the day.  Who is he?  These wonderful pictures of a young man by the name of Orrin Maki were taken in the mid 1950's at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track in Fort William Ontario.
All my friends and I who frequented the famed CLE race track, which today would have encircled the Golf Dome at the fairgrounds would have given our right arms to have their photos taken beside these guys.
Here is Orrin standing next to the famed '32 Ford 5W Coupe #47 "Buds Thing", driven by Barry Kettering, and also standing next to Barry himself. 
These photos were taken in the mid 1950's

On the left Orrin is held in the air by Martin Autio.

On the right he is posing with Ross "Pappy" Fowler.

If you do a search on the top left corner of this blog page you can read about each of these drivers in more detail.
Be sure to click on all photos for enlargements!

On the left, we have Orrin with Wally Prokosh.  Wally drove many cars at the CLE but he is most known for his #54 Abitibi Car.

On the right Johnny Zatti puts his racing helmet on Orrin, bringing huge smiles to both their faces.
Here is Orrin with a very young looking Tom Dow, with a few jealous kids looking on.

On the right is Orrin on the left and an unknown young man on the right beside Tom Dow's beautiful '32 Ford 3-window coupe #2 stock car.

This is how the track looked in the mid 1950's and where Orrin had all those photos taken.  Today you would be staring directly at the Golf Dome.

A couple of shots of the track in relation to the surrounding area circa mid 1950's at Fair time.
Orrin would have been close to my age had he not passed away back in 2008.  His father Bill passed away at a young age as well back in 1980 but luckily these photos survived.  Orrin did have his hand at racing as I did, but the reason these photos were taken was because his father Bill Maki was on none other than Barry Kettering's pit crew at the time.
A big thank you to Russ Wanzuk for the use of the pictures of Orrin and the big boys.